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It’s Sweet Tooth Thursday: Allergy Friendly Chocolate Cake (dairy-free, egg-free, corn-free) or …

… a little part of my birth story in the boonies

I know, I know, I didn’t post anything for … *ahem* … three months … oups … . Well, I got busy and the time was flying. Sorry about this.

But today is a special day. I just had to write a post. My little baby, or rather my little boy, turns four years old.

I can’t believe it’s been four years since the Hubs got very pale, nearly passed out in the hospital and was ordered to leave the room where I was giving birth. My midwife told him she could take care of me, no problem, but he would be on his own lying unconscious on the floor.

But still she had to call another midwife to help her. One was pushing my belly downward while the other was trying to get hold of the baby’s head. I felt like a … (piece of meat/cow/fill in the blank) with the two women working on me and finally, plop, he most precious little baby on earth was born.

The whole labor was rather fast I believe. Prior to my arrival at the hospital I didn’t have any contractions. The normal procedure here in Paradise is to induce after a woman is passed 41 weeks. With other words, from zero to fully open in less than 10 hours.

Oh yes, at one point during labor – mainly to make some small talk with the midwife because the Hubs had left the room (see above) – I raised the question of an epidural. Her answer was ‘Oh, this you should have asked the doctor before you came down here to the labor room. Now it’s too late.’ And I thought ‘B*tch, the last time I’ve seen this doctor was some 8 hours ago and I had no clue how painful this was going to be. … Gotta hang in there. … It’s just a matter of time. … Millions of other women did it before me. … I can do it.’ And so I did. The outcome: healthy baby, healthy mommy and all the pain was erased from my memory. Oh, and a very sick daddy after he came back to the room and saw my placenta lying around.

Fast forward four years. During this time we have mastered appendicitis and are living with food allergies and seasonal allergies causing eczema and sneezing/coughing.

These days, with his ‘old and wise’ age of four years, ‘Timan’ knows that if he stays clear of eggs, dairy, corn, chicken, fish, tomatoes and the products made with them, he stays perfectly healthy without itchy skin and if he would stay indoors 24/7 he wouldn’t cough or sneeze. The latter is nearly impossible for a 4-year-old boy who likes to run, jump, climb and explore nature.

But of course he likes to have his cake and eat it too.

What better activity for a kid to do during the ‘tropical winter’ school holiday than baking his own birthday cake.

Allergy Friendly Chocolate Cake (dairy free, egg free, corn free)

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour

1 cup brown sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

60 gr dark chocolate (check ingredients for traces of milk)

60 ml virgin coconut oil

1 cup warm water

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp lemon juice or apple vinegar

Method

Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 3-4

Mix all dry ingredients except the chocolate.

Break up the chocolate into pieces, add coconut oil and melt it in a small sauce pan, stir until combined. Add warm water, vanilla extract and apple vinegar, stir well after each addition.

Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients until combined and no lumps left.

Pour into 8″x8″ tin and bake for about 30 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Don’t overbake.

Let cool for some hours.

Glaze

20 gr dark chocolate

40 ml coconut oil

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tbsp soy-milk

2 tsp vanilla essence

Break up the chocolate into pieces, add coconut oil and melt it in a small sauce pan, stir until combined. Add brown sugar, stir until all is melted. Add soy-milk and mix. Bring to boil and simmer for 2 minutes while stirring. Remove from heat and stir constantly for another 5 minutes. Add vanilla essence, stir. Pour over cake. If you want to add some sprinkles, now it’s the time. Unfortunately I didn’t find any without ‘Timan’s allergens here in Paradise. Set aside for another hour, you might want to cool it if you live in a hot climate.

This recipe is made up of other recipes I found on the internet but adapted to the items you can buy here in Paradise. You can also use Cacao powder instead of chocolate, but you’ll have to adjust the fat content (oil) in the recipe. Check out this baking ingredient substitution table.

‘Timan’ loved the cake he made and the Hubs liked it too. I liked it anyway. Remember, I’m the one with the sweet tooth. 😉 It’s an easy egg-free, dairy-free and corn-free chocolate cake with chocolate glaze and it’s super-yummy and moist. Enjoy.

What other simple and easy cakes you make for your kids with food allergies?


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It’s Sweet Tooth Thursday: Mango Drop Cookies with a Twist (dairy-free, egg-free, corn-free)

I just knew this was going to happen. There will be a day I don’t have a decent snack for the tot available. I had fruits, but ‘Timan’ was craving for a cookie, something with carbohydrates. Of course it was supposed to be reasonable healthy and yummy and not causing his skin to flare up with an eczema or a rash a couple of days later because of his food intolerance.

Bake it myself, that’s the solution. I thought for a while, took a little bit from here and a little bit from there, I used oats instead of an egg and the outcome you find here: Mango Drop Cookies with a Twist.

You can actually fiddle around with the twist yourself, make as tangy as you like. My recipe however is child-prove, tested and approved by the tot himself.

And with a little help the master ‘Timan’ was ready to help too. And how concentrated with his task he was.

Mango Drop Cookies with a Twist (dairy free, egg free, corn free)

Ingredients

3/8 cup (3 oz/90ml) olive oil

3/4 cup (150gr) brown sugar, loose

1 tsp vanilla essence

3 ounces (90ml) mango juice

1 medium mango, peeled, cut into small pieces and mashed (I ended up with 75gr)

2 1/3 cup (300gr) whole-wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon, ground

1 tsp ginger, ground (this is the twist, add more if you like)

1/4 tsp salt

4 tbsp (20gr) instant oats

Method

Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 3-4

Mix olive oil with brown sugar, vanilla extract and mango juice, add mashed fresh mango and combine.

In separate bowl sift flour and baking soda, mix in cinnamon, ginger, salt and oats. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients.

The more you mix the batter, the less ‘fluffy’ the cookies will be.

Using a teaspoon scoop portions of batter and drop them on a greased cookie sheet using another spoon. Place the drops about 1.5  inch apart, the cookies will rise a little and flatten a bit, but not too much.

Bake for about 12 minutes or until they start to turn brown on the edge, depending on the cookie size. Don’t overbake.

Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before you use the spatula for flipping pancakes to lift them off the sheet and transfer them to a wire rack. Let them completely cool and store the cookies in an airtight container.

Et voilà, you have some nutritious and healthy cookies for an afternoon coffee or a yummy treat for your kids lunch box. They are not crunchy, but not really chewy either, more of a cake or muffin texture.

The cookies here in the tropics only stay crunchy for about 14.99 seconds anyway. So maybe the dairy-free, egg-free and corn-free ‘mango drop cookies with a twist’ would be a little more crunchy if they were baked in a dry climate, or if you would use candied mango pieces instead of fresh mango, or if you would add an egg or an egg-replacement. Drop a line, I would like to know. However for me they are perfect the way they are.

Enjoy.

What cookies are you baking for your family these days?


The mysterious rash – did we get rid of the eczema? (part 2)

♦ Read here: ‘The mysterious rash – did we get rid of the eczema? (part 1)‘ ♦

First I started to apply virgin coconut oil 4-5 times per day all over ‘Timan’s body as a moisturizer. Over the time of about 2-3 weeks his skin improved tremendously. Everywhere on his body except on the eczema area behind his knees the skin went back to normal, was smooth and felt soft like a peach.

We also gave aloe vera gel from my plant a try, but didn’t see any improvement at all. I didn’t even have the feeling it really worked as a moisturizer. And ‘Timan’ complained it was stinging and burning his inflamed skin patches.

In the meantime the northeast monsoon had just started with its rain and the tap water was very chlorinated again, even I could feel the change. It’s not only chlorine, the water is treated with, I think the company treating the water is also adding something else to make it less harsh to the skin. Maybe this is what is causing the rash. This time around only ‘Timan’s legs were involved, from the buttocks to the rim of the shorts (note: unless we go out, he’s running around with undies and shorts only, I ditched the shirt after his armpits got better and stopped itching).

The Christmas parcel from Europe arrived and with the present for ‘Timan’ there were also some remedies for the little guy I was looking for. My parents included among other things tea tree oil and Urticalcin, a homeopathic remedy to treat a calcium deficiency. I never considered calcium could be the problem, but I believe this idea is on the right track.

Dry coarse skin, dermatitis, hyperpigmentation and eczema can be a symptom of Hypocalcemia (calcium deficiency) according to the Cleveland Clinic.

‘Timan’ has never been a milk-lover after weaning from breastfeeding with 22 month, he was nipping on his soy-milk about as often as he was drinking cows-milk before. And eczema can be a sign of calcium deficiency. But as with all homeopathic remedies, the symptoms got worse at the beginning before they started to improve.

The chemicals in the water and therefore in the clothes combined with starting to take the homeopathic calcium tablets made the eczema on his legs flare up even more.

To give ‘Timan’ a break from itching and myself a pause from preventing the scratching I applied Hydrocortisone again and it reasonably cleared within 4 days. Never before it had cleared in such a short time.

I have also started to use a wet compress on his legs 3x per day for 30 minutes each time. This was a huge success for the area behind his knees. It went very smooth and the inflammation could be kept at bay.

Right after the wet compress I gently apply some drops of the tea tree oil, to my surprise it does not sting or burn at all when I am using it undiluted. It probably depends on the stage of the inflammation or the concentration of the oil itself.

Additionally, whenever the weather is reasonably good, we are going to the beach for a swim. Of course ‘Timan’ loves this more than anything.

But I believe to really put an end to ‘Timan’s eczema on his legs we would have to move to another house that does not get the water from the ‘Public Utilities Corporation’ and but ‘untreated’ water from a creek in the mountains. And all our laundry would be free of chemicals. Yep, those houses do exist here in Paradise, we just have to find one. Let’s keep fingers crossed that we will anytime soon.

To put all together, these are the things that work for us to keep ‘Timan’s skin eczema free:

  • using untreated water from the mountains for cooking, shower, bath, etc.
  • chewable multivitamins and minerals that are free of most common childhood allergens
  • dairy-free, egg-free, corn-free, chicken-free, tomato-free, scombridae-free (fish-free) diet with many fruits and vegetables, preferably raw
  • Urticalcin – homeopathic tablets to treat a calcium deficiency (even though they contain lactose -> room for thoughts about the dairy-free diet?)
  • drinking a lot of water
  • antihistamine
  • wet compress on his legs
  • tea tree oil on his legs
  • virgin coconut oil as moisturizer all over the body as often as needed (sometimes 4-5 times per day)
  • using a nail file to keep his finger nails as short as possible

And if he would have a flare up in the future I can’t control with natural remedies

  • Hydrocortisone

But this is how his eczema area looks right now, after almost three weeks with Urticalcin, without the use of steroids.

I just hope the itching will finally stop and ‘Timan’ gets off the antihistamines. Slowly I will also reintroduce dairy products (in moderation) and eggs, but will definitely wait with corn products, chicken, tomatoes and fish of the family ‘scombridae’ (tuna, marlin, swordfish, mackerel, bonito and such). Red Snapper is much tastier anyway. 🙂

Yeah, 2012 will be a better year for my son and therefore for all of us. And with proper skin care, applying lots of moisturizer and an appropriate diet we’re going to be able to keep the tots skin eczema free and silky soft.

What worked for you or your little one to treat dermatitis? Are you using steroids or natural remedies? Did you use homeopathic remedies for eczema?

p.s.: Using virgin coconut oil does not only keep the dry skin soft and smooth, it also evens out scars, i.g. from the tots appendix operations.

The mysterious rash – did we get rid of the eczema? (part 1)

We just started a new year and to me it seems concerning ‘Timan’s eczema it’s a new start for us too, his skin is getting better and better. But we had quite a journey last year. After the ruptured appendix with complications ‘Timan’ started to break out with an itchy rash. He had this rash literally on his whole body, his eyes were sometimes swollen or later the skin around them was red, inflamed and itchy.

Little did we know that this was just the beginning. Even today I am not entirely sure I found all the triggers, but after many sleepless nights, lots of ups and downs, more often downs then ups, we are at a stage where I can say that we can control the tots inflamed and itchy skin, even without steroids.

Unfortunately we don’t have many specialised doctors here in Paradise and no allergy tests are available at all. There are two dermatologists, but no pediatric dermatologist and no allergist is in the country either. We would have to go overseas for tests and treatment. So I started to do some research online, the same as probably every parent would do with a child who is scratching himself bloody at night. And with the help of my parents in Europe, who sent some remedies that are not available here, we finally see an improvement.

Not every person is reacting the same way, there are so many reasons for the skin to break out in a rash. It may be atopic or a reaction of the immune system to an allergen, here on my blog I simply want to show you what worked for ‘Timan’. And maybe it’s giving you a new idea.

I believe his rash was triggered by a change in chemicals to treat the tap water, chemicals to combat bacteria in the drinking water during the time the water in the storage lakes on the island was getting less and less. First ‘Timan’ had little blisters all over his body, a little while later the back of his legs was hot to touch and the skin looked brownish red, as if it was burned.

The first thing we did was to use ‘pure’ water for ‘Timan’, water the Hubs collected way up in the mountains. I used this untreated water for cooking and to shower or bath him, unfortunately until now we still have to use the chlorinated water to wash our laundry. It took about 5-6 weeks until he started to look better without using medication. However the rash behind his knees and under the armpits stayed.

Eventually we went the medicated way, the itching was getting worse, the scratching was getting more and our tot was clearly suffering. I started to use Hydrocortisone on the eczema spots behind his knees and it worked, but did not clear everything. The itching stopped, the skin behind his knees looked ok, but never went back to the way it used to be. And every time I stopped applying Hydrocortisone, 2-3 days later the red area and the blisters reappeared. Was there a need for a stronger steroid cream? I felt I had to talk to a professional. So we went to see a dermatologist. I was so disappointed. The doctor didn’t tell me anything new, I had the feeling I knew much more about ‘Timan’s skin condition then she did. But she said the way I was handling it was good, it’s well under control. No wonder with all the Hydrocortisone. However she didn’t have a solution to get off the steroids and we went home with a recommendation to use more antihistamine.

I started to look for possible other triggers myself, something from within the body was causing the eczema. We went dairy-free, egg-free, a while later corn-free and saw a slight improvement, especially under the armpits. But I also realized 2 days after having chicken, tomatoes or pelagic fish his knees got worse, even during the time I was applying Hydrocortisone. So we also went chicken-free, tomato-free and pelagic fish-free (only scombridae were causing an immune response).

However applying Hydrocortisone on an almost permanent basis is not the way to go so I started to look into natural remedies. Furthermore there is only a very limited selection of moisturizer for eczema-prone skin to buy here in Paradise.

♦ Here you can read ‘The mysterious rash – did we get rid of the eczema? (part 2)’, the way we got the eczema under control,♦

but first please tell me:

What is your experience with allergy or food intolerance? How are you dealing with it? Did you find all the triggers?

It’s Sweet Tooth Tuesday: Star Fruit (Carambola) Orange Muffins (dairy-free, egg-free, corn-free)

Slowly I’m getting the hang of keeping ‘Timan’ dairy-free, egg-free and corn-free and sometimes it’s even fun fiddling around with new recipes.

Let me start like this, I’m not a big fan of star fruits, they are always much to sour or tart for my palate. But my new carambola orange muffin recipe turned out to be super yummy. And star fruits are a source of vitamin C, even better, however if you are having a problem with your kidneys, they are not the fruit for you.

Actually there exist two types of carambola, the ‘sour’ ones – and these are really sour – and the ‘sweet’ ones – just a tiny little bit less sour. 😉

So it comes, the fruits (the ‘sweet’ ones, LOL) the Hubs bought the other day just sat on a plate on the kitchen counter and got more ripe by the minute. And it was raining, ‘Timan’ was in need of an activity. What do we do? We’re baking muffins. Of course, they have to be free of the allergens that I think are causing his eczema to flare up.

Carambola (Star Fruit) Orange Muffins (dairy free, egg free, corn free)

Ingredients

1/3 cup (90ml) Sunflower Oil

1/2 cup (100gr) brown sugar, loose

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

2 1/2 ounces (70ml) Orange Juice

1 1/2 cup (180gr) whole meal flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

4 tbsp (20gr) instant oats

1 pin salt

2-3 carambola/star fruits, chopped into 1/2 inch/1 cm-pieces to make ca. 3/4 cup and 6 slices (stars) for decoration

Method

Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 3-4

Mix oil with brown sugar, vanilla extract and orange juice.

In separate bowl sift flour and baking soda, mix in oats and salt. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients.

Combine the chopped star fruit pieces with the batter and spoon it into a greased medium size 6-hole muffin tin (3/4 full).

Top each muffin with a star and bake them for 25 minutes (test with wooden toothpick).

Let cool for at least 5 minutes before taking out of the tin.

If you don’t want to cut out eggs, I would mix one egg into the wet ingredients before you add the orange juice. In this case you can skip the oats if you prefer. Or leave them, it would’t matter.

As usual the tot had a hard time with something he never had before, but the Hubs who is a real challenge with baked goods not made by his mama dug in with a ‘Mmmm, i bon.’ (English translation: ‘yummy, they’re goooood.’).

And on top of that, the dairy-free, egg-free and corn-free star fruit (carambola) orange muffins are nutritious and surprisingly not sour at all.

Enjoy.

What is your favorite muffin these days? Are you also inventing or adapting recipes to the needs of your family?

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